FLINT TWP. — More sidewalks, more beautification efforts, trail expansion and programmed activities for children and fitness buffs are among recommendations for the township set forth in the newly adopted 2016-2020 Parks and Recreation Master Plan.
Approved by the township board last week, the five-year plan requires periodic updating so that township projects will be grant eligible.
The document includes updated demographics including township population loss and housing changes since the 2010 plan was adopted.
The new plan was subject to two public hearings – one held by the township’s Park and Recreation Committee on January 28 and one before the township board on February 16.
The plan requires community input.
This time around, instead of holding an Open House to gather public input, the committee held interviews with about 11 recreational providers from 10 different areas of the township, according to Barb Vert, interim parks and rec committee chairperson.
Those groups were the Flint Watershed Coalition, Flint River Trail, Flint Township Police Department, Genesee Wanderers Bicycle Club, Carman-Ainsworth Senior Center, Flint Rotary, PAWS Animal Rescue, Flint Yard and Garden Club, Crim Fitness Foundation and Carman-Ainsworth Schools.
The group worked on drafting the plan with Doug Piggott of Rowe Professional Services.
Some of the greatest recreational needs identified for the township include afternoon and evening recreational programs; outdoor recreation for children; beautification of the Miller Road corridor for pedestrians and drivers; a larger library with outdoor space; programmed activities at the Community Park; neighborhood parts in under-served areas such as Bristol/ Van Slyke and Bell Road; and more improvements of existing trails.
The most important goals to focus on during this next cycle of development include multi-use facilities, access to the Flint River, and more beautification efforts.
Also strongly encouraged are trail extensions to Swartz Creek, the Flushing River Trail and the Ionia Trail; conversion of the vacant theater building at Lennon and Dutcher to recreational use; adding more parking, playground equipment and picnic pavilions at the community park on Norko Drive, and expanded activities through partnerships with groups such as the Crim Fitness, Friends of the Flint River Trail and the Senior Citizens Center.
More sidewalks were also mentioned, especially considering that pedestrians have to walk in the road during the winter.
The document identifies recreational deficiencies such as handball courts, outdoor swimming pools, baseball fields, skating rink and a community center. For example, the township has no handball court but seven are recommended for a community of this size.
The plan recommends working with neighborhood groups to develop community gardens on vacant lots. It also advocates developing fitness programs using existing parks and trails.
Potential projects in the next five years will include expanding the Genesee Valley Trail into Swartz Creek, upgrading the Riverview Canoe Landing, completing the Heroes Plaza and creating more neighborhood parks and green spaces.
Trustee Frank Kasle praised the work of the committee and the thoroughness of the document.
“I hope we can do some of the things in there. All we need is the money, right?” he said.
The entire plan can be read on the township’s website at www.flinttownship.org.